A Dermatopathologist is someone who's an expert at looking at biopsies of
the skin. So, if you were to go to say, a dermatologist or another doctor
and they saw something they were concerned about; maybe you had a rash or
you have something they thought might be skin cancer, they would take a
biopsy and then they would send that to someone like me and I would look at
it and make a diagnosis. Most consumers can ask their dermatologist when
they go see them, if they get a biopsy, who's going to be looking at that
biopsy. It's very important to make sure that the doctor gets the right
diagnosis, so they'll have the right treatment for that.

We see patients a lot of times who don't get the right answer if it's not
looked at by an expert and that can cause problems. A dermatopathologist is
trained in either pathology first or dermatology first and then we spend at
least another year in very specialized training where all we do basically
is look at biopsies of the skin and learn how to interpret those under the
microscope and how to interact with doctors who do biopsies, so we can
explain to them how to best treat their patients. So, it's a very
specialized technique.

There's not more than just a few hundred of us in the United States. If a
consumer or a patient were to get back a diagnosis or just [actually]
they're going to see the doctor, they should say, "Well, I know you're
getting ready to take a biopsy. I want to make sure that it's read by
somebody that's really good. I want to make sure that my skin biopsy's
going to be read by somebody that gives the right answer and I'd like to
know that you're able to send it to the person that you feel the most
comfortable with."

Unfortunately, today some insurance companies don't allow doctors to choose
who they send it to. They kind of make them send it to some other group and
they don't have a relationship with them and sometimes they don't get the
answer back fast enough or they don't get the right answer back and a lot
of doctors aren't happy that they have to be forced into that situation. A
patient can actually have some impact on that.

We've had some patients actually write some letters to the insurance plans
and gotten them to change their position to some cases. In other cases, we
had some people say, "I'm willing to pay a little bit extra because I want
to make sure that it's the right answer. So, even though my insurance may
not cover it at 100%, I'll pay more to make sure that you and I both feel
like we're getting the best care for me."

What is a Dermatopathologist?

Dr. Clay J. Cockerell explains the role of a Dermatopathologist